Work in the Time of Corona: Amber Blanton, Makerspace Student Assistant

By Amber Blanton

Our library staff members are chronicling their experiences living through a pandemic. If you keep a daily journal of your experience, consider donating it to Swem’s Special Collections when the crisis has passed.

Name: Amber Blanton

Title: Makerspace Student Assistant

Department: Circulation

How has your work changed during the pandemic?

Everything feels a lot more uncertain since there is no telling how long self-isolation and, as a result COVID, cabin fever are going to last. I certainly miss the routine of checking in with my awesome supervisors, Ashley Gonzales and Abbey Childs, as well as the rest of Circulation staff about any ongoing projects or simply how their day is going. It’s lonely here having to work from home for so long. At least as a silver lining, my hours are very flexible given work can be conducted outside of Swem’s normal operating hours now. Also, doing work in pajamas is always nice. I wish that would be the one aspect that carries over once these isolation times are all over, haha. a home workstation bested in natural light

What are your challenges?

Clocking into work on a normal day, I always looked forward to walk-ins consultations with students and faculty. One day I could find myself helping a student learn the basics of embroidery and then the next I could be brainstorming with a professor about the applications of 3D printing for a future class project. Without that fast-paced, dynamic work environment, time passes at a snail’s pace and I often struggle to feel as though I am making any progress. Beforehand, the ‘ah-ha!’ realizations of makerspace patrons when they understand how a process works invigorated me with a sense of accomplishment that I struggle to chase now that I am confined to working at home.

Without accomplishment, I also struggle with intrinsic motivation more than before. Extrinsic motivation feels more like pressure, since during this epidemic my roommate has been sick and self-isolating for almost a month and my little sister has been bouncing between jobs since her first was deemed ‘non-essential’. I am very, very anxious about how long of an endurance test this will be on my savings. Thankfully, staff at Swem and William & Mary were able to draft then approve policies granting students the ability to conduct remote work, so that alleviates my fears immensely. 

What has surprised you?

Honestly, I was surprised with how fast and frequent communication regarding remote work policy development occurred from Circulation staff to us student workers. My concerns were always addressed quickly and with genuine empathy. I am so grateful to work for the Circulation staff at Swem. Everyone there is working their hardest during this rough situation and has always kept our best interests at heart.   

What do you miss most about being in the library?

Besides what I mentioned prior, I really miss the friends I made at the makerspace both staff and student regulars. I miss hearing about what they have been up to, any projects they are working on or thinking of starting, or even just talking about a good Netflix series (like Tiger King, where would we be without streaming services during isolation, haha). While I’m glad it exists, a group chat just is not the same. I miss everyone there. You guys made my day brighter.

Anything else you’d like to share:

Please tell me I am not the only one gaining weight as I sit at home as I sit in my computer chair doing a combination of schoolwork, work-work, and video games for roughly ten hours a day nearly everyday for about three weeks now. I miss the gym. Also my birthday in on the 22nd of April, so it seems the party will be held over Zoom, haha.